We teach learners using design approaches that explore the contexts of:

  • Graphics
  • Surface Pattern
  • Illustration
  • Type
  • Packaging
  • Logo
  • Stage Sets
  • Products
  • Websites
  • Signs/Symbols

In art and design education, design can be defined as the intentional and purposeful process of developing and creating solutions to meet specific needs or problems.

It involves the application of creative and critical thinking, visual and aesthetic solutions, along with technical skills and knowledge, to generate innovative and functional outcomes.  

Design encompasses various disciplines such as:

  • Graphic Design
  • Advertising
  • Illustration
  • Digital and Time-based media
  • Industrial Design
  • Interior Design
  • Product Design
  • Fashion Design
  • Textile Design
  • Jewellery
  • Architecture

Product Design as a term refers to a wide range of products embracing the world of fashion and textiles, furniture, and household products but it can also include products for industry and all forms of engineering.

A designer can therefore design a stamp, a coin, a digital game, advertising materials, a woven rug, a lamp, a book cover or a music sleeve, but the term design also applies to those areas normally associated with Design and Technology (D&T), such as engineering, furniture and mechanical product design.  

When planning curricula, we sometimes neglect 'Design'. We should ask if it is appropriate to have an imbalance.

It is important to take cognisance of the potential of learners as designers, to develop their design capability and enable them to contribute in terms of design to society and the economy if they so wish. With careful planning and teaching design tasks can mirror projects and practice in design-related careers.  

Design can be two-dimensional, virtual, three-dimensional, multi-dimensional and multi-sensory.

As art educators, we must be conscious that our students and learners might move into the creative media and design industries as a designer, in any one of a myriad of areas of design practice including some areas that do not yet exist. Design industries are evolving very quickly. 

It is helpful to remember that design as a specialist practice, historically emerged out of traditional fine arts and crafts practices, skills and techniques.

These have evolved and been refined over the last two centuries. Like craft, design is not limited to aesthetics alone but also considers usability, functionality, and human-centred design, including ergonomics and anthropometrics.

Design therefore involves careful consideration of all the artistic elements e.g. shape, form, surface and colours, as well as composition, communication, and message (rather than meaning), but also materials, spatial relationships, human interface issues and environmental, sustainability, moral and ethical design solutions. 

Applications include:

  • Research/Investigate
  • Imagine
  • Iterate
  • Ideate/Imagine
  • Refine/Edit
  • Explore
  • Evaluate
  • Prototype
  • Model
  • Design and Make

Applied and real-world products which communicate/function using digital, virtual and diverse physical media may include:

  • Inks
  • Paints
  • Markers
  • Fine-Line
  • Flat Colour
  • Paper
  • Card
  • Board
  • Film
  • Chemicals
  • Fabric
  • Print
  • Silk-screen
  • Stencil
  • Batik
  • Plastics
  • Tape
  • Stamp

The above materials and processes can be used to explore how to:

  • Draft
  • Sketch
  • Design
  • Cut
  • Crease
  • Fold
  • Prototype
  • Illustrate
  • Select
  • Paint
  • Colour
  • Construct
  • Assemble
  • Communicate
  • Explain
  • Research
  • Respond
  • Iterate
  • Review
  • Evaluate

We should endeavour to carry out process steps through:

  • Design Brief Analysis
  • Market Research
  • Mood-Boarding
  • Ideation
  • Thumbnailing
  • Concept Development
  • Visual Exploration
  • Concept Refinement
  • Client Interaction and Approval


For an analysis of Designerly thinking see Gary Granville, Emma Creighton and Fiona Byrne In Ash & Carr (edited) Creativity, Designerly Thinking and the Wicked Problems of Life - Practical Guide to Teaching Art and Design in the Secondary School. Routledge (2023) 

cross linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram